JK Rowling, you’ll recall, doesn’t have a problem with trans people. How could she! The very suggestion!
Just because her second Strike book portrayed trans characters as unstable and aggressive and threatened them with prison rape – it “won’t be fun for you… not pre-op” – doesn’t mean she has a problem with trans people.
And just because her latest book’s villain is a crossdressing woman-slayer doesn’t mean she’s a lazy hack regurgitating tired tropes about murderous men in dresses in a world where 129 trans people have been killed since January, some of them tortured, some of them dismembered, some of them left in burning cars.
No! She’s just very, very worried at the prospect that a cisgender man might pretend to be somebody he isn’t and then attack a woman. Protecting women is her thing.
It turns out that the people we should have been protecting women from weren’t cis men pretending to be trans, though. They’re cisgender men pretending to be Harry Potter characters.
A naked fantasist who tried to suffocate his partner while impersonating Lord Voldemort and speaking in tongues has been jailed.
Edward Rudd, 37, has been jailed for 11-and-a-half years over the attempt to kill his then-girlfriend while he impersonated the Harry Potter villain.
Maybe we should ban the books, just in case. Y’know. To protect women.
Let’s go back to serial killers, though. The trope of misogynist crossdressing murderers, as seen in Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs and to a lesser extent The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is lazy because it’s been done to death and comes from a single, upsetting and extreme case: Ed Gein, the infamous grave robber and murderer who committed his crimes in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
There was no way Gein was going to have any kind of happy ending. His mother punished him frequently and severely, prevented him from making friends and told him repeatedly that all women bar her were wicked, immoral, dirty and satanic.
When she died, Gein lost the only person he’d ever cared about and tried to preserve her memory. He boarded up her rooms to keep them pristine and lived in her old house in a small room where he devoured lurid tales of cannibalism and Nazi atrocities.
He didn’t start with murder (although maybe he did; his brother died in suspicious circumstances). Gein was primarily a grave-robber, a body snatcher, exhuming and mutilating bodies on over 40 graveyard visits to obtain body parts from corpses; on some of those occasions he dug up recently buried middle-aged women who resembled his mother and tanned their skins to make various obscene items. His goal was to become his mother, “to literally crawl into her skin.”
There’s a whole bunch of stuff going on there, clearly, but it’s pretty obvious that Gein wasn’t trans or pretending to be. He was a seriously damaged individual who believed that if he could somehow become his mother he could bring her back to life.
As far as I can tell, there has only been one trans serial killer: Donna Perry, who shot three sex workers in Spokane in the US in the 1990s. There have been very many cisgender women serial killers, however: not just Myra Hindley and Rose West, but Beverley Allitt, Karla Homolka, Kristen Gilbert, Amelia Dyer, Juana Barraza, Judy Buenonano and many, many more. They might not have committed crimes as gruesome as those of Ed Gein, but each one of them killed many more people; the stats indicate that we should be much more scared of nurses than of trans people, or of people pretending to be trans. Wikipedia currently has 63 pages dedicated to women serial killers in America alone. Which is 63 pages more than I’ll read of Rowling’s execrable output.